4 Motivations to Start or Finish School This Year

Pam Denicke is passionate about helping adults get back to school, especially single moms. She says this is a situation where you can’t afford not to.

1. Now’s the Time to Begin Applying

Scholarships, Pell Grants and Work-Study

– Scholarships – Often single moms won’t apply for a scholarship because they don’t think their grades are good enough, or don’t think they have the time, or they think scholarships are for ‘other’ people. Not so! The best approach for going to school is to apply for everything. Not all scholarships are based on academics – many are needs based. Begin researching local, regional and national scholarships and apply, apply, apply.

Pell Grants – Pay for living expenses while you go to school!
Many single moms pay their tuition with scholarships and use their Pell Grant to help them with living expenses while a student.

January is the time to apply for federal financial aid with a Pell Grant for the 2009-2010 academic year. Unlike student loans, a Pell Grant does not have to be repaid and is awarded to undergraduates who have not yet earned a bachelor or professional degree.

Work Study Programs – Work on campus and get paid.

A student who is eligible for a Pell Grant is also eligible for Work-Study. Work-study is part of a student’s financial award package and allows a student to work in a department on campus for up to 20 hours per week in a paid position.

Who Should Apply? – find out if you are eligible for Federal aid.

Many students think they won’t be eligible for a Pell Grant and don’t apply. The Federal Government recommends completing and submitting an application for determining your eligibility; you’ll never know until you apply.

1.) The first step is filing your 2008 income taxes. Need free help filing? If your household income is under $42,000/year, you may be eligible for free tax help from IRS-trained community volunteers through Earn It. Keep It. Save It. Call 2-1-1 to find out if you are eligible! You may also qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal tax credit that can increase the effective wage of qualifying workers by up to $2/hour (maximum credit is $4,500/year).

2. Education Pays

Pursuing a Bachelor’s degree is a temporary situation—it may take 5-6 years to complete but is well worth the sacrifice. Recent research demonstrates Utah single moms with a Bachelor’s degree earn, on average, $32,000 per year compared to the $17,000 per year earned by single moms with only a high school diploma.

Many single moms interested in going to school wonder how they would fit school into single parenting, working, taking care of the household and themselves, and still be mom.

Colleges and universities have made going to school easier. Now, distance education is a great way for single moms to take classes. Distance education can be a combination of online classes (which eliminates sitting in a classroom; complete coursework from home any day of the week and at any hour), broadcast television, web/video conferencing or DVD. Flexible and weekend classes/programs are also available.

Impact of Education

Education is knowledge and knowledge is empowering. Education can empower single moms to achieve their goals. Single moms attending school are exposed to experiences that can increase their self-esteem and confidence. This spills over into their families and impacts their children in positive ways. The economic impact results in her ability to increase her income, possibly even doubling her earnings and achieving long-term self-reliance.

3. Ready-Made Support System

Single moms interested in going to school usually have numerous questions and rightfully so. They wonder who will care for their child or children, what would they do about health care for themselves or their children and could they really be a student again.

The truth is whichever campus a single mom chooses for herself she will find a ready- made support system. Schools want their students to be successful and complete their education program! Most campuses offer a variety of child care programs on campus; some have evening programs. Many offer financial vouchers for students with children who are receiving a Pell Grant. Get started early in exploring what childcare options are available – ask questions and do some digging.

Student health clinics are on campus with minimal cost for routine visits. Fitness centers are available free of charge to students and counseling centers offer free sessions or sliding fee scales.

For children, the CHIPS health insurance program provides state health insurance for children ages 8 and younger of working families who do not qualify for or have any other health insurance coverage. http://www.health.utah.gov/chip/

Another resource for families is the Maliheh Free Clinic. The Maliheh Free Clinic improves the quality of life for uninsured families in the Greater Salt Lake Area by providing free medical services. www.malihehfreeclinic.org/services.html

To learn about available student health insurance plans, compare and purchase health insurance options available in Utah visit, www.campuscoverage.com. Department of Workforce Services offers several health insurance programs as well.

Learning Enhancement Classes – To reassure students that they can be a student again and a successful one at that, some colleges have a study skills class or workshop. These classes remind students how to take notes, study and offer test taking strategies.

4. Save While You Study – Individual Development Accounts (IDA)
Discover how to save a minimum of $15 per month, have your money matched ($3 to $1) and then use the savings towards a down payment on a first home, to start up a business or to further your education.

The Single Mom Foundation is committed to helping single moms become self-reliant through education. If you are a single mom, or know a single mom interested in going to school, visit our ‘one-stop’ Education Resource Website for single moms. We’ve done the homework and made it easy to explore your options and achieve your educational dreams. Visit our website where the following free tools are available:

• Free self-assessments and career planning tools

• School contacts, support services

• Financial aid tips

• Campus programs/services for single mom students

• Resources for single moms

Visit www.singlemomfoundation.org (website will be available in Spanish spring 2009) today, get into school, get out and get on your way!

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